When did you move to Barcelona?
My daughters and I moved to Barcelona, not once, but twice. The first time, personal and professional reasons took us back to our native London after 10 years in the Spanish city. That was in 2018. It took us a while until we realized how much we missed Barcelona and the following year we prepared to go back in order to settle down. Which meant organizing relocation, preparing paperwork, and finding a real estate professional who could guide us through the whole process, and that’s how we met Barleigh Ellis’ own Ronei Kolesny.
What did you miss the most when away?
What we missed the most was the light. The hardest thing about living in London is the winter darkness. Second, without wishing to resort to stereotypes, we found people in Barcelona to be more easy-going and positive.
How did it feel going back to your hometown?
Our first stint in Spain had had an effect on and changed us as people, in a way that coming back to London with my daughters was surprisingly disconcerting. For example, when you enter a lift in Barcelona people will say “hola”, or “adiós” or “que tenga un buen día”. In London, strangers will jump in surprise when addressed in such an unexpected manner.
What do you recognize to be good about coming back to Barcelona this time round?
Returning to Barcelona has confirmed my belief that the city offers an unrivalled quality of life. With some 1.6m inhabitants, it is just the right size: big enough to offer everything you need, but without the inconveniences that come with megacities, such as bad traffic.
It is no secret that Barcelona is an easy city to live in because things just work. For example, you can have a fibre-optic internet connection installed within a day. Furthermore, the climate allows everyone to sip excellent espresso outdoors in the middle of winter. Little pleasures with big rewards, and there are so many I can’t simply list them all.
It sounds as if there are no drawbacks…
The only drawback that I can think of right now is that, for expats, professional opportunities can be limited unless you are self-employed or have been relocated there by a multinational employer.
Can you tell us a little bit about the home we found for you?
My family and I live in Pedralbes, a residential neighborhood on the slopes of Tibidabo, a mountain to the west of the city centre. It is family-friendly, being spacious, and lush with greenery, although is still inside the city’s ring road. Almost all of Barcelona’s international schools are in Pedralbes or nearby.
It is also within walking distance of the old neighborhood of Sarria, a prosperous area where the city’s middle classes built their summer homes in the early 20th century. Nowadays, Sarriá boasts a wide social spectrum: on one hand, one can see the old ladies at a haberdasher’s crocheting together; while on the other, there is an excellent oyster bar.
How do you enjoy your spare time?
The city has an excellent and diverse restaurant scene. With a few exceptions, such as Michelin-starred restaurants, it is not difficult to find a table at a popular restaurant at short notice.
I can also indulge my passion for classical music. Besides the worldwide famous Liceu opera house, the l’Auditori and Palau de la Música concert halls, the city and the wider Catalonia region have a full programme of classical and contemporary music festivals throughout the year.
Beyond the city, there are plenty of places to go to for a weekend break, such as Empordá, which is about 90 minutes away by car. The area has some beautiful coastal villages, such as Cadaqués and Calella de Palafrugell, and well-preserved medieval villages inland, including Pals and Peratallada.
The proximity of ski resorts is a huge plus for us. My three girls and I mostly ski in Baqueira Beret, which is about three and a half hours’ drive from Barcelona and arguably the best resort in the Pyrenees. The Andorran resorts are also good and the drive, around two and a half hours, is shorter.